Code of conduct not fully enforced, schools study finds

Students, parents surveyed on punishment standards

April 03, 2005|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Many students and parents in Anne Arundel County's middle and high schools do not believe a new student conduct code is enforced consistently, according to preliminary data from an online survey.

The code, which was adopted by the school board in May and implemented in September, standardizes punishment for violations at all county schools.

Administrators are in the process of revising the code and plan to take into consideration the survey results.

An analysis of responses from an online survey of more than 950 parents, teachers, administrators and students indicates that most feel safe at school: 89 percent at the elementary school level, 78 percent at middle, and 73 percent at high school.

However, middle and high school respondents said enforcement of the code is inconsistent: 51 percent expressed this view at the middle school level, and 30 percent did at high schools.

However, 82 percent of those in the elementary school community responded that the code is enforced uniformly.

In addition, nearly half of respondents stated that some students "persistently disrupt the learning environment" and should be placed in alternative education.

The survey is not finished. School officials are awaiting the results of a paper survey of more than 7,000 parents and students of the fourth, sixth, ninth and 11th grades.

Varied views

School researchers who compiled the data noted that the students who were surveyed had the least-favorable opinions of how the code was enforced; an average of 47 percent of their answers were positive.

Comparatively, the administrators who participated tended to provide more favorable feedback, with answers that were 76 percent in the affirmative.

Written comments to the survey, conducted in January, showed consensus among parents, staff and students that behavior on buses and bullying continues to be a problem, said Kathy Lane, the school system's director of alternative education and safe schools.

Because of the concern about bus behavior, the school district will conduct another survey next month and will include transportation employees, Lane said.

Harsh judgment

All groups surveyed also consistently reported in written comments that punishments for bias-related behaviors - actions motivated by prejudice toward a certain race, religion or gender - seemed too severe.

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